Saturday, 29 August 2015

Finished necklaces

I finally got around to making some necklaces.  The one above features my polymer clay bead, with peridot, aqaumarine, amazonite and apatite chips, both on the necklace itself and in the tassel.  I think the colours of the gemstones really complement the polymer bead.
You may remember that I bought this peridot chip necklace at the car boot sale.  I have taken it apart and am using the peridot from it.
As I was in jewellery-making mode, I also made this necklace, using pearls from a previously bought necklace, aquamarine, peridot, two colours of apatite and amazonite chips.  I spent hours threading the chips onto the beading thread, held it up to judge the length, then promptly dropped the end without the bead stopper on it! Consequently, everything fell off, rolling to the far corners of the room and I then spent quite a few minutes retrieving it all, with a few choice words being said at the same time!  Once I had recovered, I set to and re-threaded it all on again. (Note to self: use a stopper bead on both ends when judging length of necklace!)  However, I do like the result as these teal/blue/green colours are favourites of mine and it is a necklace I shall wear a lot.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Faux Dichroic glass experiments take two... some unexpected results

I had another go at the faux dichroic glass technique and still couldn't quite manage to keep the rich colours of the alcohol inks as I had wanted to.

I used the translucent clay with the inks dripped onto it, which created some dots of colour.
I then used the scraps to make various beads and I think these were the most successful things I made from this technique.  The colours showed through more effectively and the foils gave a shine through the layers. The effect was a little like mokume gane (click here for a previous post about that technique). I think this larger bead may become a centre of a tassel necklace with peridot, aquamarine, amazonite and apatite. 
 You can see the colours much better in the beads.
 These beads were made by twisting the colours together and this gives another effect.  So, although the technique I tried originally didn't turn out as I wanted, I did gain some rather lovely foil beads to use in jewellery. Not a total waste of time then!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Experimenting...try, try again!

You know how sometimes you see a technique being demonstrated and think. "Ooh, I need to have a go at that!"?  Well, this happened to me with a faux dichroic glass technique being demonstrated using translucent polymer clay, gilding flakes and alcohol inks.  I had all the equipment needed, so off I went.
 All was going well - the alcohol inks gave lovely colours over the gilding flakes and I started to smooth the pieces on the surface, when the alcohol ink came off on the cling film and I was left with faded and washed out colours.
 This small square piece came out best, with two areas where the colour stayed put.
 I ended up painting this one with metallic acrylic paint to try and put some colour back.  "Oh well", I thought, "I need to leave the alcohol ink to dry for longer next time".  So, for the next attempt, I left the ink on the surface for most of a day and overnight, just to make sure.
 Guess what happened?  Yes, the ink still came off and I was left with washed out looking colours with the blue and green.
 The pink, red and yellow colours stayed on a little better and were stronger pigments.
This was another experiment using the scrap bits and pieces.  I do like the slightly muted and aged-looking colours.
So, my next step is to try again with foil rather than gilding flakes and perhaps also with paint, just to test the effects.  I also need to try using stronger alcohol ink colours.  I would love to be successful with the technique, so I shall keep trying.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Hydrangeas, Hibiscus, Clematis and a Raspberry

(photo collage created using picmonkey)
It's that time when the garden just pauses before launching into the late summer and autumn plants. Stalwarts of the garden at this time are Hydrangeas and Hibiscus.  I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with hydrangeas in the past, but am loving them again, possibly as there are some really interesting varieties now.  Above is a selection from my garden, all in pots with the exception of the middle picture on the bottom row, which is lucky enough to be in the border.
From top left, top row: Hydrangea Coco (I think, or it could be Fireworks); Hydrangea Sundae Fraise (which is starting to turn pink now, but began this lime green/white); and an unnamed Hydrangea
Middle row from left: Hydrangea Merveille Sanguine (which is really beautiful); Hydrangea Everlasting Summer Pink; Hydrangea Everlasting Summer The Bride
Bottom row from left: Hydrangea Dark Angel; Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle; Hydrangea Dark Angel again. As you can tell, Dark Angel is my current favourite, closely followed by Merveille Sanguine, then Annabelle.
 I always feature the Hibiscus - Oiseau Bleu above and Woodbridge below.  They look so exotic but I have found them to be trouble free and reliable and when in full flower, they make quite a statement.

I couldn't resist another look at Hydrangea Dark Angel as I am fascinated by the creamy flowers/bracts which turn pink, then purple, surrounding bright blue flowers in the centre.  
Some of the clematis are still flowering such as Clematis viticella Purpurea Plena Elegans, which is in a pot but which I do need to pot on. However, despite this, it is reliable and just stunning, with the velvety purple petals like pompoms.
Clematis Princess Kate has done really well for me as I only bought it this year.  Maroon stripes along white petals on an elegant flower.
 Good old Clematis Piilu - it has finished flowering for this year but flowered well.  There are other plants gearing up to flower, such as crocosmias and asters, as well as Helianthus Lemon Queen, so the show will go on.
I picked (and ate) my first raspberry this year and delicious it was too.  I have two Joan J canes in a large tub and they seem to be very reliable autumn fruiting plants.  If I had more space, I would definitely grow more of these.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Car Boot Sale goodies

With the lure of lots of plant stalls, which is what Chris told me, he persuaded me to go to a local car boot sale on Saturday.  It was a very hot day, but I had the foresight to take a bottle of water with me and we had both put suncream on.  A few years ago, I would have come home with a huge amount of things, but I am slowly realising that we don't have a lot of room for more stuff, so anything I bought would need to be small and easy to store.  I think I did reasonably well!  Above is a rubber stamp with a really intricate pattern, which I thought would work well with polymer clay as well as with ink and embossing powder, to use with paper crafts.
Of course, I needed to try it out and then paint it with my metallic paints, which gave a nice effect.
(I still need to be a bit more careful to keep in the lines!)
 I also bought this little cat stamp too, which worked well.
 I saw some little flower brooches at a vintage fair a few months ago, and although I really liked them, I couldn't justify the price that was being asked,  So, when I saw these, I almost pounced on them!  There is a brooch and a pair of earrings and the little white carnation has broken off something else, but I couldn't just leave it there, now could I?
 Seeing the brooches at the vintage fair made me think I could make something in a similar style, so here is one of my attempts made from polymer clay at the front.   I think I did quite well with the colours!
 I also bought these earrings which I think I shall take apart and use as charms in other pieces.
There was also this peridot chip necklace which I shall also take apart and use other jewellery - perhaps in a memory wire bracelet.
There were a couple of plant stalls and I did buy two lavender plants as I haven't had much success in keeping lavender and would like to try one more time...
All in all, I did quite well, I think.  Small things, easy to store and not costing too much money!

Monday, 3 August 2015

A small act of defiance (in a good way)

 I thought I would share a photo of the replacement hanging basket which is outside the house, after the previous one went missing (see post here).  It does look a little pathetic at the moment, as the plants need to grow on a bit, but I hope that it will provide a splash of colour.
It has a verbena at the back, an ivy leaved pelargonium, a pink calibrachoa and two white petunias in it.  The choice of plants was a bit limited due to the bedding plant season being nearly over.  The basket is screwed to the wall with brackets, and the liner is attached to the basket with cable ties, so I hope this one will be with me for a good few years.  A small act of defiance can be a very positive thing.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Visit to Grimsthorpe Castle part 2

 Here is part two of the trip to Grimsthorpe Castle.  Through the vegetable/kitchen garden gate was this slightly wilder border which contrasted well with the formality of the previous garden.
 There was what looked a bit like an orchard, with box growing round the base of the trees.
In this section, the trees were growing through areas of grass which had been left longer and which emphasised the trees.  I really liked this idea.
 A more formal avenue of trees, stretching off into the distance.
 Then we came to two grass areas, with box bushed and a pool and fountain in each, surrounded by yew hedging with topiary birds and shapes.  I think that the Grimsthorpe gardens would make a wonderful setting for a production of Alice in Wonderland .
 Some of the yew shapes cut on top of the hedge.
 The view across the park to the lake.
 A delightful tunnel which just invited the visitor to explore..."Curiouser and curiouser"...
 The tunnel led back up to a double herbaceous border with yellow and white as the main colours.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Castle. As the day was still young, we decided to make a detour to a nursery and garden centre called Rasell's, in a village not too far away, called Little Bytham.  I used to live not that far from Little Bytham but hadn't been back for many years.  The nursery was full of well cared for plants and had planted borders which gave the visitor a good idea of how the plants would look in that situation.
I bought an agapanthus - 'Navy Blue' - well, it had to be done after seeing all the beautiful ones at Grimsthorpe.  I have tried to grow one before but all I got was leaves, so I hope this one will do better for me.
I also bough Dahlia Merckii, which is a plant that has been on my wish list for years, but which I hadn't seen for sale anywhere. That has been potted on and I am enjoying its small delicate flowers. Of course, we had to sample the tea room too, which was very nice, with proper china and tea leaves, not tea bags.  We had a fantastic day out and here's to the next one...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Visit to Grimsthorpe Castle part 1

I enjoyed a lovely day out last Tuesday, with my friends Katy and Alison.  After a bit of research on where we could go, we plumped for Grimsthorpe Castle, which is about an hour away.  I had visited before, but six years ago, so was very happy to go again and had a two for one voucher, so off we went. I took lots of photos of the gardens, so will split them into two posts.
 The main front of the house is very grand and imposing, designed by Vanbrugh, who also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.  The figures in gold on the coat of arms are a monk on the left and a wild man on the right.
 The house towered above us.  I was intrigued by the massive columns.
 I felt they were an unusual design.  We went in by the front door and were given a very informative and fascinating tour by Beryl, who was extremely knowledgeable and hardly seemed to draw breath!  Photos weren't allowed in the house, but I made up for that outside!
Yes, I do like a view through a door or a gate.  The gold figure here is a saracen.
 The gardens are around the house and are created in different 'rooms'. This is the rose garden.
 The older part of the house can be seen here, with the crenellations.  It reminded me of one of my favourite historic houses, Haddon Hall, near Bakewell.
 Another view from the rose garden showing the older and newer parts of the house.
 We went through to the kitchen garden which was very impressive.  Topiary and pots of agapanthus were used as eye catchers.
 Flowers and vegetables were planted together.
 The onions were drying in the sun.
 Looking down through the vegetable garden.  I particularly liked the agapanthus and decided I needed to put one on my wish list!
Now and again, there was a lovely view of the house.  The garden did give me the feeling of being in Wonderland and I half expected the Queen of Hearts to appear round the corner at any moment and demand a game of croquet!
Looking back into the vegetable garden.  The final arch had raspberries growing up it which was a lovely idea.  Part two of the visit will follow...